Well, it means that if you’re a woman friend of mine or a member of my family, and you didn’t know before, you now know whose side I’m on – whether the men in our lives like it or not (and most, at least two-thirds, actually approve at home, as well as putting on a show for the outside world). Sometimes it’s difficult to side with a woman who tells you that her father, husband, boyfriend, best friend, or boss is verbally, physically, or sexually assaulting her, but siding with her is a must. Unless your woman friend or family member has literally been proven to be a compulsive liar, which is much less common than you might think, the best thing you can do is take her side. Even if all you can do to help her is give her a good pair of listening ears to rely on so that she can vent and discuss her problems, you are doing her a world more good than choosing the “neutral” route and remaining as conniving as Switzerland during World War II (for more on Switzerland and WWII, see many good resources on the Internet and television and in your local library).
If you’re still unsure as to whether or not I’m right and your wrong, first of all, don’t beat yourself up over it. Seriously, most of us do too much of this every day for our own good. Don’t add to the pressure of living by being nasty toward yourself. You’re worth more than that. If you don’t believe me, consider finding a counselor or therapist who specializes in abuse and domestic violence *and* who is familiar with the work of Lundy Bancroft and Ann Jones.
Secondly, pick up and read books authored by the two people mentioned above: Lundy Bancroft and Ann Jones. Their books are two of the most important, and well-written, books you will ever find on the subject. They may be the only ones you’ll ever need: *Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men,* by Lundy Bancroft, and *Next Time She'll Be Dead: Battering and How to Stop It,* by Ann Jones.
Thirdly, **ATTENTION ALL MEN AND BOYS**, do not take this issue for granted. Remember that if you abuse someone you even say that you love and/or care about, not only do you forfeit the right to say that you are a good father, husband, boyfriend, best friend, or boss, but you also do yourself such a tremendous disservice that it would be funnier if it weren’t so tragic. YOU HURT YOURSELF THE MOST. Make no mistake about it: you know it, I know it, and all of the women in your lives know it. Eventually. If we survive to tell the tale.
Next, if you hear someone making a sexist comment or remark, especially among a group of women friends and family members, speak up. Speak up. SPEAK UP. SPEAK UP! Domestic violence is not “religious,” nor is it “cultural.” It infects the lives of many people, regardless of race, creed, sex, lifestyle, or class. The more of us who can speak up against the very foundation of violence against women at its core, the faster we can work toward a society that is free of abuse of all kinds.
Finally, get involved. Our legal system is the most vulnerable place for many abused women, even today. Take steps to help women let our police, attorneys, judges, mediators, jurists, and elected officials know that when there is a weak link in the chain to protect women and help them get custody of their children, you will stand up and fight to take back our legal system – your first, best chance of staying free.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: http://www.ncadv.org.